28 May 2014
in Live Review
Tags: acoustic, album, annie clark, art rock, artist, birth in reverse, bring me your loves, chameleon, concert, crunch, dance, david byrne, debut, electric, eponymous, festival, gig, gnarly, groove, guitar, i prefer your love, indie, jokes, Manhattan, music, performance art, pop, prince johnny strange mercy, rattlesnake, review, reviews, rock, set list, show, solos, st. vincent, standing ovation, stories, stripped back, stunning, sufjan stevens, surgeon, Sydney, sydney opera house, the polyphonic spree, theatrical, vivid
Annie Clark may not be godly but when she performs as St. Vincent she is like something out of this world. The Manhattan native made her Sydney Opera House debut for Vivid Festival and received a standing ovation. She had shown us all why 2014 has been her year thanks to a mesmerizing, theatrical show that will go down in the books as a truly special one.
The set list was predominantly made up of songs from her recent, eponymous album. The opening, ‘Rattlesnake’ saw a crazy rhythm combined with an indie pop groove while ‘Birth In Reverse’ was one of the best songs of the evening. It saw a gnarly crunch coupled with a danceable buzz.
The strong songstress also belted out some mean, electric guitar solos whilst striking her best rock star poses. Dressed in head-to-toe black and with a shock of thick, white grey hair, in the shadows she looked like The Cure’s Robert Smith while at her more mischievous and playful moments she resembled Prince.
She cracked jokes, gave a special welcome to the freaks, the others and the weirdos in attendance and told “stories” from her childhood. The latter included wanting to fly, producing fires with a magnifying glass and imagining that famous people’s faces were superimposed on the bodies of the local homeless and elderly people (yes, Clark does have one vivid imagination!)
St. Vincent isn’t just an artist with a swag full of musical chops. She also created different moods for each song, which at times seemed more like a performance art show at a modern museum then your standard gig.
There was some syncopated guitar rocking during ‘Birth In Reverse’; some twinkle toes in ‘Surgeon’; a laidback and casual air in ‘I Prefer Your Love’; and some raw, writhing in ‘Bring Me Your Loves’.
St. Vincent has previously collaborated with former Talking Heads member, David Byrne. He said that after almost a year of touring he still didn’t know her any better. As an audience member one can’t help but feel the same and also imagine that Clark is actually giving away a little piece of herself at every show, such is the visceral, incendiary and evocative moods she created live and feelings that are far more intense than the recorded form.
‘Prince Johnny’ was so tender, sad and operatic. St. Vincent stripped away at every layer in her cries and ended the song looking like a crucified woman. It was a very different feeling to the old song, “Strange Mercy”, where Clark performed solo and left little pockets of air to punctuate the piece.
It is difficult to pigeonhole such a tough chameleon like St. Vincent (especially when you consider her other work with The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens). It would also be a massive disservice to think you could fully capture the crazed magic and colourful sorcery of her guitar hooks, electronic bleeps and amazing songs in a single review.
In short, St. Vincent’s Opera House debut was stunning. Her recent record translated wonderfully to the live stage and featured intense and heavenly art rock painted with the finest brush to reveal an awe-inspiring palate of Technicolor.
Originally published on 27 May 2014 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/406256/is-st-vincent-the-greatest-live-performer-of-2014.htm
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14 May 2014
in Film Review
Tags: adidas, athletes, brittany mccrigler, bubbles, clothers, clothes, consumerism, david dworsky, doco, documentary, dress, fabrics, fashion, fashionable, fast fashion, film, films, fix, forward thinking, garments, ifixit, inovators, kyle wiens, lady gaga, matt hymers, movie, nancy tilbury, patagonia, pioneers, presspauseplay, recycle, review, reviews, rick ridgeway, smart, sophie mather, studio xo, style, stylish, sustainability, sustainable, suzanne lee, technologies, technology, textiles, the next black, victor kohler, yeh group
The Next Black is a fashion documentary that doesn’t look at what’s in style now; nor does it examine what will be fashionable in a year’s time. Instead, it looks around the corner at what is coming next by interviewing the pioneers and innovators within the industry who are using technology and new ideas to create garments that are stylish, environmentally sound and forward-thinking.
This 40 minute film is directed by David Dworsky and Victor Köhler, the pair who are also responsible for directing the documentary, PressPausePlay, which looked at how the digital revolution is impacting on the arts world. The duo use a combination of voiceovers, talking head interviews and footage of the actual outfits in action to tell the story with both black and white and colour film. Nancy Tilbury from Studio XO describes how fashion and technology intersect. This was done especially well with the 3D printed dress that Studio XO made for Lady Gaga, which also shot out bubbles.
Lady Gaga’s outfit may have looked amazing but it is Matt Hymers from adidas who is developing the smartest clothes. The company is working in consultation with various athletes worldwide to develop sports uniforms that monitor performance (such as heart rate). Suzanne Lee on the other hand, is helping create sustainable fabrics with cellulose-producing microbes in a practice that is closer to food and drink manufacture than producing traditional textiles.
Other areas helping with the sustainable fashion movement who are featured here include Sophie Mather from Yeh Group where dyes that use no water have been developed and Vice President of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia and activist, Rick Ridgeway who is leading a crusade by encouraging people to recycle and fix clothes. Another pair helping with the latter movement is Kyle Wiens and Brittany McCrigler from iFixit who show people how to sew and repair clothes.
The Next Black is all about challenging the idea of clothes, as some players in the fashion industry go through dramatic shifts towards sustainability and exploring new technologies and practices. The film is an interesting one that will have a broad appeal and impact, especially in this current environment of fast fashion and consumerism. This documentary is perhaps best summed up with the quote by the late Coco Chanel that is delivered in the opening scene, “Fashion passes, style remains”.
Originally published on 13 May 2014 at the following website: http://iris.theaureview.com/2014/05/13/film-review-the-new-black-sweden-2014/
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14 May 2014
in Theatre Review
Tags: abrasive, adaptation, addiction, addicts, adult themes, alcholic, brendon taylor, brtual, choose a job, choose life, coarse language, confronting, controversial, damien carr, dark, dead baby, debut, destruction, drugs, episodic, fearless, franco begbie, horror, i chose not to choose life, irvine welsh, jam rag, johnny swan, junkies, king street theatre, leigh scully, live, luke berman, mark renton, minimal, newtown, novel, play, poverty, premiere, review, reviews, self-medication, Sick Boy, stage, stark, Sydney, taylor beadle-williams, theatre, toilet scene, tommy murphy, tragedy, trainspotting, vignettes, violence
Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Irvine Welsh’s debut novel, Trainspotting. The story is about a bunch of junkies and a violent alcoholic. It was initially a cult book, was then a successful stage play and eventually was adapted into a blockbuster film starring Ewan McGregor. The first theatre production of Trainspotting took place in Edinburgh in 1994 and it has since gone on to win awards and audiences alike with various adaptations over time. The latest version comes courtesy of Black Box Theatre and Emu Productions. They’re presenting the Sydney premiere, which is based on Harry Gibson’s original, gritty stage play which looks set to become another cult favourite.
Trainspotting is not a story for the faint-hearted or easily offended. At King Street Theatre in Newtown, the audience were warned of the coarse language, violence and adult themes that is found in this confronting, abrasive and controversial production. This current adaptation is directed by Luke Berman (Playmates, Proof) and is heavily focused on the original stage performance rather than the novel or film (although the movie’s two most infamous scenes involving the toilet and the dead baby are brought here to intense, horrific life).
The cast is led by Damien Carr (A Glass Menagerie, Everynight Everynight), who plays the unemployed anti-hero, Mark Renton, plus some minor cameos. Carr proves to be engaging and charming as the primary storyteller and he is joined by a versatile cast. Taylor Beadle-Williams (Amnesia, Plans, The Crucible) plays every major female role while Leigh Scully (Home & Away, Rescue Special Operations) is Franco Begbie, Johnny Swan and Mrs Renton. Brendon Taylor (Antony & Cleopatra, As You Like It) also plays the callous Sick Boy, the unhinged Tommy Murphy and Morag “Jam Rag” Henderson.
The actors keep the mood electric, crisp and charged as they are forced to alternate between roles at the drop of a hat. They are convincing (both with their acting and Scottish accents). One minor issue on opening night however, was that there were a couple of fumbles over some difficult lines and a couple of problems with malfunctioning props (although the actors did brilliantly to keep pace when things went wrong).
This adaption features a series of brave vignettes that share the same consistent and focused energy on the junkie characters, their associates and most importantly, their dark lives. The story is in part narrated and it has some of the same witty, stream-of-conscious-style quotes that Welsh had originally penned. A case in point is the brilliant soliloquy: ‘Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family… I chose not to choose life. I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin”’.
The set is very stark and minimal and is fitting when you consider the story’s depressed, economic setting (the 1980s in Edinburgh). A bed is used in the second part as a place of withdrawal as well as a coffin and there are also milk crates, the famed toilet and a graffiti-filled door. The background proves as confronting and gloomy as the actual tale. The use of music is also good. It’s occasionally used when the characters are taking trips and lends the proceedings a spaced-out, hypnotic feel, while at other moments songs like Blondie’s “Atomic”, Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” and Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” help create an excellent mood.
Over the years the Trainspotting book, film and play has divided critics as it is brutal, fearless and hell-bent on creating horror and destruction. This adaptation also manages to achieve this and is intense, raw and eye-opening. Not for the young or faint-hearted, Trainspotting looks at the difficulties of boredom and the tragedy of self-medication, addiction and poverty, while showing us how our choices can result in things that are like a cold, hard punch to the face.
Originally published on 13 May 2014 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/arts/reviews/trainspotting-king-st-theatre-newtown-08-05-14
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13 May 2014
in Comedy Review, Live Review
Tags: 2014, angry, comedian, comedy, dave hughes, david hughes, factory theatre, funny, hilarious, hughesie, hughesy, jokes, live, ocker, rant, rants, review, reviews, risque, stand-up, strine, Sydney, sydney comedy festival, the factory, the glass house, the project, three children, timely, wife
Dave Hughes’ strine is as recognisable as an ambulance or car horn but at his recent show at the Factory Theatre it was like music to the ears of comedy fans. The former star of The Project and The Glass House brought his laidback, ocker approach to his stand-up show à la Carl Baron, but he also peppered his routines with sarcastic rants about his kids and modern life in a similar way to Dylan Moran and Alan Davies. It was fun, entertaining and funny.
Hughes’ set went for just over an hour and started off with an appraisal of Sydney’s “Full on” traffic scene. He questioned the use of “Keep clear” signs on the road since he hadn’t noticed he’d driven over them and then segued into most comedians’ favourite choice of material, airlines. Tonight’s topic featured the budget ones after Hughesy had just “missed” a flight that hadn’t taken off and was still sitting on the runway. The paperwork proved too much for the flight attendant but Hughesy did get good mileage (pun intended) out of the jokes.
Another favourite topic of Hughes was his three children, aged five and under. There were questions about the importance of a first birthday that won’t be remembered, jokes about the kids playing pretend cafes, and how hard it is to get change when you have the trio in tow and one insists on listening to the Frozen soundtrack for the hundredth time. Some of the other funny stars of the evening were the Hughes’ family pets, including an overweight cat (“He finishes breakfast and starts campaigning for lunch”) and their stupid, balloon-eating dog who is befuddled by the doggie door and thinks it’s a big trick when he’s pushed through it).
Hughes did touch on some more risqué topics, like Olympians and celebrities taking drugs (“It’s like driving a Ferrari to Blacktown, it’s a good trip but you end up in a bad place”); having sex even though his son has a tendency to call in on their room as he makes his way to bed; and asking two young men about their downstairs manscaping. Hughes was very quick-witted during this exchange. When the bloke said he did trim things because otherwise it gets too fluffy, the comedian shot back, “Well, stop shampooing it!”
An additional rant by Hughesy was inspired by some hipsters running a café. They apparently looked like members of the Kelly gang and served coffee in jam pots. Hughesy asked why they were charging him $4.50 when they couldn’t even afford a proper mug. He also changed topic by describing some of his favourite fan and celebrity encounters including interviews with One Direction and Brad Pit (the latter ended poorly after Hughes called Eric Bana, “Eric Banana”.
Dave Hughes’ show was timely as he took pot-shots and joked about recent events in the media (including reality TV). He was also very funny just being himself and talking about the hilarious things his wife, children and pets do. In just over an hour the comedian stayed faithful to his ocker image and entertained us with the kinds of funny rants he was renowned for doing on The Glass House. Anyone who has seen Hughes on TV will confirm how funny he is and it’s fair to say that he’s even more so in real life.
Originally published on 12 May 2014 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/arts/comedy/dave-hughes-factory-theatre-09-05-14
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